Inspiration – Where does it come from?

Inspiration – Where does it come from? I’m sure we’ve all heard the question being asked, not just by photographers but by people from different walks of life.  Everyone wants to know where it hides, how to find it and how to keep!

It’s something I’ve pondered on myself, especially in those times when my mind has been a complete blank and I haven’t had a creative thought for weeks.  Thinking about the times I’ve felt inspired, where did that feeling of inspiration come from, what started that thought process, how was it triggered?  I noticed that it just happened.  Either something I saw, hear or felt would set my mind running in lots of different ways.  Memories of sounds, colours, smells would race through my my head some with a strong link together others a more tenuous link.

For everyone it will be different sometimes it helps if your in a quite place to nurture the start of that thought, forming a stronger idea and building on it until WOW your inspired!  But other times it suddenly comes to you out of the blue, trigger by something you didn’t expect, catching you unaware and off guard.

I love dance, and in particular ballet.  I’m not a dancer and the closest I’ve been were the ballet and tap classes I attend as a very young girl at the age of 4.  But I love to watch people dance, not just professional dancers at the theatre but anyone who likes to dance.  It’s not about how good they are its about their passion, their inspiration and their ability to realise it, grasp it and use it.  Where does the inspiration for their dance come from, the music, the location, some other connection they’ve made in their head that’s secret to them.  Not someone else’s inspiration but their own.

At the moment there are three songs with their videos that inspire me.  They are Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud  (You tube link here)  Sam Smith, I’m Not The Oly One (You Tube link here) and Selena Gomez, The Heart Wants What it Wants (You tube link here)

For me the Ed Sheeran video is more about the dance, the softness and the strength, the lighting with the song adding the finishing touches wrapping the whole thing up with a nice bow.   When ever I hear the song on the radio it’s the dance that comes to mind, even now while typing this I can picture it in my head.

For me Sam Smith’s video its more about the look and feel of the video the clothes the way its filmed and the emotion in his voice, like the glue holding the whole thing together.

And for Selena Gomez its the mix of contemporary filming, the voice over from an old movie at the start setting the scene.  And in those few minutes telling the whole story.  The grainy low light Black & White filming reminds me of those classic old black and white movies and how things change and progress through technology while still remaining the same. The filming is fantastic.

For me some of these things translate to images I’d like to take. Some are just things I turn over in my head for a while as they morph in to something different drifting in and out like an old friend.  And some become something else  like a dress I’ll make, a meal or even a blog post.

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places, keep watching, keep looking, keep your eyes and your mind open.  And remember inspiration mainly comes from within yourself.  You just need to recognise it!

Thanks for reading.

Waverley Abbey with Sun Flare

Location Scouting Waverley Abbey

There are a few shoots I have in mind and want to arrange over the coming months.  It’s great when an idea pops in to your head and your brain runs wild with ideas, then, bam it hits you, that realisation that you now need to start the hard work of pulling everything together.  Things like finding the location, thinking how to light it, what angle to shoot from, what images do you want from it, what look and feel do you want to achieve.  All these questions and more need to be thought about and covered in your planning.

I’ve been looking for a while, over a year in fact, to find a ruin to use as a location.  But I didn’t want any ruin because I had a particular look and feel in mind.  I wanted something gritty, with atmosphere, slightly rough but with soul.  It also needed to have a softer side, romantic and dreamy.  A cross between Wuthering Heights and Vogue magazine.

Wuthering Heights makes me think of dark brooding skies, two souls wondering the windswept Yorkshire moors together.  That great romance between Heathcliff and Cathy, full of drama and contrast between the softer side of human nature and the harshness that co-exist together.

For me Vogue magazine is a modern day take on that same story but without the leading characters of Heathcliff and Cathy.  Instead they are replaced by our love for the new and shiny adverts we see.  Those gorgeous girls wearing elegant designer dresses, jewellery, handbags and shoes.  The make-up, the perfume, not to mention the impact of the overall image.  They sell an idea of romance that allows us to dream, soft dreams of ethereal moments.

Maybe that has given you a bit of an insight into why it’s taken me over a year to find the location that I felt could deliver what I was looking for.  That location is Waverley Abbey.

Waverley Abbey has stood since 1128.  I wonder how many stories it could tell, how many secrets it keeps?  Although it’s now a ruin it has seen the passage of time from its beings, through the reformation of Henry VIII, two world wars, women getting the vote and much much more.  The Abbey has a feeling of peace, of quite calm of knowing and waiting.  Watching the visitors as they pass through and quietly standing while I take the images I want for my scouting trip.

Sir Walter Scott who was a frequent visitor to Waverley Abbey House and his first novel was titled Waverley.  There is some debate whether the name of the lead character Waverley was named after Waverley Abbey or whether it was just coincidence!

If you watch the video you’ll notice I used my iPhone to take the images from the scouting trip.  All I needed was something light that fitted easily in to my pocket and had a reasonable camera.   I’ve added some of the images here on the blog as well as in the video.  I hope you enjoy both the images and the video.

Thank you for reading.


(Video by Chris Blake –

Some of the images from my iPhone


Kim Byrne Photography-Waverley Abbey-Farnham-Surrey-Feb15-IMG_0037


Kim Byrne Photography-Waverley Abbey-Farnham-Surrey-Mar15-IMG_0171


Kim Byrne Photography-Waverley Abbey-Farnham-Surrey-Feb15-IMG_0045


Kim Byrne Photography-Waverley Abbey-Farnham-Surrey-Feb15-IMG_0112


Kim Byrne Photography-Waverley Abbey-Farnham-Surrey-Feb15-IMG_0040

Looking for a Studio Space

I’m currently in the process of defining my Brand, the logo, the colours, the look and feel of everything from style to website to letterhead and packaging.  I’m surprised at how much time it takes to tie everything together and make sure everything is consistent across all areas from colours to layout.   A Graphic Designer is well worth the cost, I’ve been working with a lady called Lucy Wynn I’ll explain my branding lessons learnt shortly, we’re on the home straight but there’s still plenty for me to do.  Especially when using different suppliers to produce, business cards, letterhead/compliment slips and packaging.

Anyway, while on my brand journey I was visiting a Fashion Designer (Zuzana Kurucova) the other day and as I was leaving her studio when I notice a vacant room next door.  My brain went in to hyper-drive for a few minutes while I decided whether I wanted to investigate further.  Needless to say I decided in the positive, after all what did I have to loose!  I was only checking things out in more detail to help me make an informed decision.

The location is good, about a 5 min walk from the town centre and less than 3 minutes walk from the train station, with fast links to London in approx. 38 minutes.  Then Zuzana told me the previous occupants had only move out the day before.  As the door was open I decided to have a look inside, after all it would have been silly not too!

The room is about 15′ x 12′ and has a large bay window.  There is a large recess with a fireplace and an unfortunate looking storage heater stuck in the middle of it.  Hmm! could that be removed or replaced by the landlord?   I asked Zuzana for the landlords contact details and left feeling quite please about the possibilities the room had to offer.  And with a Fashion Designer next door who makes wedding dresses, who knows what opportunities that could bring that could benefit us both.

I thought things through on the drive home, mulled things over a bit more that evening and the next day in between rushing from one meeting to another.  After all, this wasn’t something I wanted to rush in to but nor was it something I wanted to spend too much time procrastinating about either.  I’d already done that last year for another opportunity and regretted it.  I decided to contact the landlord and open a dialog about all the normal things you need to understand while thinking about entering in to a legal contract.

After speaking with the landlord he is going to send more details about the lease and I asked him for an appointment for a formal viewing.  We’re meeting on Tuesday 10th March.  Feeling excited, big, HUGE grin!

Fingers crossed and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading and take care.

Eva at Virginia Water, Windsor Great Park

Behind The Scenes with Eva at Virginia Water

Just before christmas I arranged a photo shoot with Eva. When we met to talk through what she would like to get from the shoot, type of images and style her main requirement was to have some photographs done by water.

My initial thought was a trip to the coast. But as much as I love the coast in winter, the windswept sand dunes, the sea spray as the wind blows across the tops of the waves, the feeling of the wind as it rushes passed you with a force that can make you stumble and take your breath away. I thought about how Eva would feel being wind swept and how quickly she could get cold. A shoot on the coast can be fantastic, I’ve throughly enjoyed them in the past but they aren’t always the right location.

So I turned my thoughts to other options and decided to use Virginia Water as the location. It’s a great area that joins The Great Park. There’s a large lake with woodland paths, Roman ruins and a striking water cascade.

Over a mug of hot chocolate we talk through a couple of locations and set off for the shoot. I love taking photographs and can easily shoot all day given the opportunity but when your in good company, the sun is shining, the air is crisp and clear it all makes for a perfect shoot. The behind the scenes video has some of the images inserted and you can see more on my website by clicking here.

The ornamental cascade in the feature inage was built in the 18th century when  the lake was enlarged by George III.  Virginian Water was first dammed and flooded in 1753, until the great reservoirs were built the lake was the largest man-made body of water in the British Isles.

If you would like more information click the following link Virginia Water, Windsor Great Park.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the video.

(Video by Chris Blake –

Long Exposure with a 10 Stop Filter

Although this post is about long exposures and was posted on my landscape site a while ago I thought I’d post here as well in case anyone is interested in long exposures.

My Approach to Long Exposure

Long exposures are achieved by reducing the amount of light hitting the camera’s sensor, the less light the longer the shutter can remain open without over-exposing your image.  There are several ways of controlling this – aperture, shutter speed, ISO, filters, time of day or a combination of any or all of these.

Aperture – measured in stops and referred to as f numbers.  The smaller the aperture the less light hits the sensor, the larger the aperture the more light hits the sensor.  It’s important to remember the lower the number the larger the aperture, the more light.   f4 will let more light in than f16 resulting in a faster shutter speed/exposure.

Shutter speed – the longer the shutter is open the more light will hit the sensor.  In the correct conditions you can have very long shutter speeds.  I have some of up to 20mins (taken at night by moonlight) and I have seen images with much longer exposures.

Filters – there are many different types of filters, coloured, neutral density (ND’s), grads, soft focus, polarisers etc..  The main ones I use are ND’s, polariser and my favourite a 10 stop filter.  ND filters come in different strengths – the most frequently used are .3 = 1 stop, .6 = 2 stops, .9 = 3 stops.  I should explain that I haven’t referred to my 10 stop as an ND because it isn’t.  The 10 stop will leave a slight colour cast on your images which can easily be corrected with a little post production. This is because it is designed for industrial and scientific photography of extremely bright subjects; the glass is so dark you can’t see through it.  This is also the reason why you need to ‘set-up’ your shot before you put the filter on your lens, explanation below under Daytime Shooting.

Time of Day – early morning (pre-dawn through sunrise), late evening (sunset through dusk) or night all have low levels of light and will allow for long exposures.

ISO – this controls how sensitive the camera sensor is to light, the higher the ISO number the more sensitive the sensor is to light.  The ISO speed works together with the shutter speed and aperture to give you the correct exposure for your image.It’s worth remembering that shooting with a high ISO can introduce noise to your image.  A basic rule of thumb is that the smaller your sensor the greater the noise for the same number of megapixels, e.g. 8 megapixels on an APS (half frame) sensor will show more noise shot at ISO 800 than 8 megapixels on a full frame sensor image shot at ISO 800.  This is because to get the same number of pixels onto a smaller sensor the individual pixels are smaller and receive less light creating more image noise.Once you have chosen your scene and effect your after you’ll need to decide how your going to achieve your desired result.

Daytime shooting with a 10 stop filter – to get a long exposure in daylight you will definitely need to use filters to reduce the light getting to the sensor.  I frequently use my 10 stop.  During bright sunshine this can give exposure times of 20 seconds or longer shooting at ISO 100, F10.  Before you attach the 10 stop to your lens compose your shot, focus, set your aperture and make a note of the exposure time.  If your camera isn’t already in Manual mode you will need to set it to manual, this includes switching off auto focus on your lens.  If your exposure time is going to be greater than 30 seconds remember to switch to the Bulb setting on your camera.  Check your composition again and ensure all the settings are correct.  When your happy that you have the correct settings you can attach your 10 stop, taking extra care not to move the lens or camera.  Open the shutter for the require time.  Check the result not forgetting to look at the exposure graph on the cameras LCD.  Fine tune your settings and re-shoot if required.

Calculate exposure required for use with a 10 stop filter – Using the table below (reproduced from Wikipedia)

1- Select f number – e.g. f11

2 – Check exposure time either with a light meter or on your camera

3 – Under the f number column locate the exposure time – e.g. 1s

4 – Check the EV number in the far left column – e.g. 7

5 – Subtract 10 from the EV number (because this is for a 10 stop filter, change number to subtract as required) e.g. 7 – 10 = -3

6 – This will give you your new EV number e.g. -3

7 – Locate your new EV number and move across to the required f number (f11 for this example) to find your exposure time e.g. 16m

EV f-number
1.0 1.4 2.0 2.8 4.0 5.6 8.0 11 16 22 32 45 64
-6 60 2 m 4 m 8 m 16 m 32 m 64 m 128 m 256 m 512 m 1024 m 2048 m 4096 m
-5 30 60 2 m 4 m 8 m 16 m 32 m 64 m 128 m 256 m 512 m 1024 m 2048 m
-4 15 30 60 2 m 4 m 8 m 16 m 32 m 64 m 128 m 256 m 512 m 1024 m
-3 8 15 30 60 2 m 4 m 8 m 16 m 32 m 64 m 128 m 256 m 512 m
-2 4 8 15 30 60 2 m 4 m 8 m 16 m 32 m 64 m 128 m 256 m
-1 2 4 8 15 30 60 2 m 4 m 8 m 16 m 32 m 64 m 128 m
0 1 2 4 8 15 30 60 2 m 4 m 8 m 16 m 32 m 64 m
1 1/2 1 2 4 8 15 30 60 2 m 4 m 8 m 16 m 32 m
2 1/4 1/2 1 2 4 8 15 30 60 2 m 4 m 8 m 16 m
3 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 2 4 8 15 30 60 2 m 4 m 8 m
4 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 2 4 8 15 30 60 2 m 4 m
5 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 2 4 8 15 30 60 2 m
6 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 2 4 8 15 30 60
7 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 2 4 8 15 30
8 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 2 4 8 15
9 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 2 4 8
10 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 2 4
11 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 2
12 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1
13 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2
14 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4
15 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8
16 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15
17 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30
18 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60
19 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125
20 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 1/250
21 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/500
EV 1.0 1.4 2.0 2.8 4.0 5.6 8.0 11 16 22 32 45 64

If you want a quick guide you can use the timings shown below

  • 1/500 – 2s
  • 1/250 – 4s
  • 1/125 – 8s
  • 1/60 – 16s
  • 1/30 – 32s
  • 1/15 – 64s
  • 1/8 – 2m
  • 1/4 – 4m
  • 1/2 – 8m
  • 1s – 16m

For long exposures I would also recommend using a cable release or similar and don’t forget your tripod.  I hope you find this article helpful.

A Little Bit Of History – Kodak 133 yrs Old

Just moved to my new website and thought I’d transfer this post from January 2012.

Kodak Camera

I think it’s fair to say most people today have a digital camera even if it is on their phone.  They love taking photographs whether it’s just something that catches their eye, a night out with friends or a special occasion!  But how many of us realise how much we owe to Kodak and the pioneering work they did?

  • George Eastman Kodak’s founder produced the first roll of camera film.
  • George Eastman invented the most significant commercial camera ever produced.
  • 1897 Kodak introduced the folding camera, it was the first of a popular range of folding cameras using roll film.  Between 1914 – 1934 Kodak sold a staggering 300,000 3A Autographics.
  • 1900 George Eastman marketed the original Brownie with a price tag of £0. 5s. 0d (5 shillings in the UK or $1 in USA)
  • 1935 Kodak introduced Kodachrome the first 35mm colour film.
  • 1969 a Kodak camera was used during the moon landing.
  • 1975 Steven Sasson spent 10mths in a research lab creating the first digital camera with 0.1megapixels and approx size of a toaster.

There’s no doubt Kodak have given a lot to photography which is why I think it’s a shame that it had to file for bankruptcy protection.The quote below is taken from an article on the BBC’s website, if you want to read the full article click hereAnnouncing the move to seek bankruptcy protection, Antonio Perez, Kodak’s chairman and chief executive, said: “The board of directors and the entire senior management team unanimously believe that this is a necessary step and the right thing to do for the future of Kodak.  If you would like to see Kodak’s Development in pictures please click here.